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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 14-04-30

Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>

Wednesday, 30 April 2014 Issue No: 4645

CONTENTS

  • [01] New mid-term economic programme expected to be tabled in parliament on Wednesday
  • [02] Greece will not need a new loan, programme or memorandum, Venizelos says
  • [03] Tourism minister addresses first annual ambassadors meeting in Athens
  • [04] Deputy FM expresses conviction 2014 a year of exit from crisis
  • [05] Foreign ministry secretary general explains new 'Ambassadors Circle' initiative
  • [06] PM Samaras says country's indications of energy resources 'extremely auspicious'
  • [07] PM Samaras meets with Chinese construction company representatives
  • [08] Gov't VP meets with EU commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion
  • [09] Respect for the environment is a development challenge, Environment minister says
  • [10] EU member states need to cooperate on health policies, EU Health minister say
  • [11] EU Commissioner for Health: Reforms are necessary to avoid collapse of health system
  • [12] Defence minister wraps up visit to Egypt
  • [13] A constitutional review needs national unity, political and institutional concession, PASOK says
  • [14] Council of State reiterates that Greek public bonds haircut was legal
  • [15] Overdue social insurance contributions total 350 million euros
  • [16] KKE criticises draft law on business licensing, warns of safety risks
  • [17] Australian Ambassador Bloomfield addresses parliamentary committee
  • [18] Admin. reform ministry extends deadline for public-sector staff evaluations
  • [19] Public-sector reforms transitioning from quantitative to qualitative targets, deputy minister tells seminar
  • [20] SYRIZA leader presents Europarliamentary ballot
  • [21] Fifteen parties apply to participate in EuroParliament elections
  • [22] 'Electronic war' case defendants released with conditions pending trial
  • [23] 'Stop unlawful and shameful expulsion of refugees and migrants' Amnesty International tells Greece
  • [24] Moody's upgrades outlook for Greek banking system to stable
  • [25] EIB signs memorandum to participate in Greek Investment Fund
  • [26] Environment minister reveals plans for creation of new natural gas axis
  • [27] Deputy Dev't minister to meet on investments in US, TAP, and Chios airport on Wed.
  • [28] Environment minister reveals plans for creation of new natural gas axis
  • [29] Mitarakis and Bulgarian deputy premier discuss Black Sea bank funding for Greek businesses
  • [30] Eurobank successfully completes share capital increase plan
  • [31] EU approves Eurobank's restructuring plan
  • [32] Deputies call for publication of agricultural cooperatives' fiscal review data
  • [33] Greek bank deposits up in March
  • [34] Bank credit to private sector remained negative in March
  • [35] PPC electricity rates will not change in 2014, deputy energy minister Papageorgiou says
  • [36] Intralot expands contract with Ohio Lottery
  • [37] Balkan chambers' president urges for cooperation to boost entrepreneurship
  • [38] Bank of Greece governor to attend London roadshow organised by Goldman Sachs
  • [39] Mytilineos Group enters Greek electricity retail market
  • [40] Ryanair announces two new routes from Athens to Brussels and Rome
  • [41] Greek stocks end flat on Tuesday
  • [42] Greek bond market closing report
  • [43] ADEX closing report
  • [44] Foreign Exchange rates - Wednesday
  • [45] Stavros Niarchos Foundation approves 67 grants amounting to 16 million euros
  • [46] Families in the Crisis conference held in Athens
  • [47] Benaki Museum exhibition on Sufism to open this week
  • [48] Inquiry launched into Elliniko municipality's liability for tragic funfair accident
  • [49] Four arrested over Elliniko fatal funfair accident face criminal charges
  • [50] Elliniko-Argiroupolis municipality authority expresses grief over funfair fatal accident
  • [51] Police see 'Revolutionary Struggle' group and Nikos Maziotis behind March bank robbery, police say
  • [52] Bomb squad neutralises parcel bomb mailed to Itea police station; no injuries
  • [53] Car plunges into Kyparissia harbour, woman found dead
  • [54] No trains, urban railway on May 1; buses and trolleys on stoppages
  • [55] Mediterranean SOS launches annual cleanup campaign for 2014
  • [56] Authorities checking a second possible case of MERS coronavirus
  • [57] Pediatrician faces child pornography charges
  • [58] Rock band "HIM" to give concert in Athens
  • [59] Free Wi-Fi access in over 20 spots in Thessaloniki
  • [60] Clouds, rain on Wednesday
  • [61] The Tuesday edition of Athens' dailies Politics

  • [01] New mid-term economic programme expected to be tabled in parliament on Wednesday

    The 2015-2018 new mid-term economic policy programme is expected to be submitted to parliament on Wednesday noon.

    Alternate Finance Minister Christos Staikouras and a PASOK delegation are likely to meet on Wednesday morning at the General Accounting Office to discuss the last details of the programme.

    The government's target is for the programme to have been voted on by next Monday, May 5, when Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras will raise the issue of Greek debt reduction in the Eurogroup meeting.

    According to a senior Finance ministry official, the issue will be raised in the Eurogroup, "but the process will be long" until the final decisions are reached. The process is expected to be similar to the one in November 2012, but this time the data on banks will also be taken into consideration. Decisions are expected towards the end of the year when the EU stress tests will have been completed.

    [02] Greece will not need a new loan, programme or memorandum, Venizelos says

    Government vice-president and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos on Tuesday was categorical that the country will not need a new loan, programme or memorandum, in an address at the 1st annual meeting of ambassadors accredited to Greece ("The Ambassadors Circle")on Tuesday, which focused on "Re-launching the National Product of Greece."

    In his opening speech, at a central Athens hotel, he referred to the regional initiatives undertaken by Greece, noting that on May 8 the Greek EU Presidency will host the meeting of the "28" (the EU's member states) with the six Western Balkan countries in Thessaloniki, while the meeting of the 28 EU Foreign Ministers with their Arab League counterparts will take place in Athens on June 10.

    Reminding that "Greece was done a grave injustice in public discussions through the repetition of unacceptable stereotypes", Venizelos underlined that is now a country that "overcomes the crisis and becomes again self-reliant in the EU, the eurozone and the international markets".

    [03] Tourism minister addresses first annual ambassadors meeting in Athens

    Tourism Minister Olga Kefalogianni, addressing the 1st annual meeting of ambassadors accredited to Athens ("The Ambassador's Circle") focusing on "Re-launching the National Product of Greece", referred to the tourist product's contribution to Greece's growth restructuring.

    The event, organised by the Foreign ministry's General Secretariat for International Economic Relations and Secretary General Petros Michalos, was held at a downtown Athens hotel at noon on Tuesday.

    Kefalogianni stressed that tourism is a sector that has the possibility of contributing decisively to the economy's growth.

    "Today it represents 16.5 percent of GDP and 18.5 percent of the country's total employment," she said. "2013 was a record year for Greece, at both the level of arrivals that amounted to about 17.9 million visitors and at the level of revenues that amounted to about 11.7 million euros", the Tourism minister added.

    She also presented the national strategic plan for Greek tourism.

    [04] Deputy FM expresses conviction 2014 a year of exit from crisis

    Deputy Foreign Minister Dimitris Kourkoulas expressed the conviction that 2014 will be the year of the exit from the crisis not only for Greece but for Europe as well, at the 1st annual meeting of ambassadors accredited to Greece ("The Ambassadors Circle"), which focused on "Re-launching the National Product of Greece" at a central Athens hotel on Tuesday.

    "We want a sustainable reorientation of the Greek economy in the international commodities and services trade", the deputy minister said and stressed that exports and tourism are the evident sources for growth.

    Kourkoulas added that in this effort the Foreign ministry can play a decisive role, contributing through the diplomatic network it possesses to the support of our enterprises in markets abroad and attracting foreign investments to Greece, while he underlined that economic diplomacy constituted a leading priority of Greek foreign policy.

    Referring to the achievements of the Greek EU Presidency, Kourkoulas, after reminding of the important legislative documents that have been adopted so far, made special reference to the maritime spatial planning agreement, stressing that "this agreement constitutes a substantive achievement in the Greek Presidency's overall agenda" regarding maritime policy and "is a manifestation of our respect for the sea environment".

    [05] Foreign ministry secretary general explains new 'Ambassadors Circle' initiative

    Greece entered a new era, as of April 10, when it returned to international markets, the Foreign ministry's Secretary General for International Economic Relations, Petros Michalos, said on Tuesday at a central Athens hotel.

    He was addressing the 1st annual meeting of ambassadors accredited to Greece ("The Ambassadors Circle"), focusing on "Re-launching the National Product of Greece", which he organised in order to brief the foreign representatives on the prospects of the Greek economy and the comparative advantages of the country's National Product.

    The basic aim of the initiative by the ministry is to improve the effectiveness of Greek economic diplomacy, he said, through Greek diplomats abroad and briefings of ambassadors by Greek entrepreneurs. A special focus of activities will be on blue growth, Michalos said, allowing synergies between sectors of marine economy and the shipping sector. These opportunities will be discussed at a congress organised on May 30 by the ministry of Shipping and the Union of Greek Shipowners.

    The Foreign ministry official also mentioned that the Secretariat General was preparing a programme with specific targets that would contribute ot the extroversion of Greek cultural products and lead to new investment plans.

    [06] PM Samaras says country's indications of energy resources 'extremely auspicious'

    Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, addressing the Greek Energy Forum on Tuesday, said that "indications of the country's energy resources are extremely auspicious", adding that more and more Europeans are stressing the importance of the country's wealth of energy sources.

    "From energy alone we can achieve growth that will meet every target," Samaras noted. "Of course, we shall not rely on energy alone. All this necessitates investments, stability, serious planning, consistent implementation, trust in Greece, open communication by Greece with the world and a stabilising role of Greece in our region instead of isolationist behaviour", the premier further said, adding that "energy is the outstanding issue that reflects distortions of the Greek economy".

    The prime minister emphasised the need for the diversification of energy supply sources, the development of sources in Europe to reduce dependence from beyond the continent and completion of the internal energy market in Europe.

    He also stressed that the developments in Ukraine prove the need for Europe's energy security and added that the TAP pipeline secures an alternative passage of Caspian gas to be channelled to Europe. "For the first time, Greece is entering the global energy map", Samaras said.

    [07] PM Samaras meets with Chinese construction company representatives

    Prime Minister Antonis Samaras met with representatives of the world's biggest construction company China State Construction Engineering Corporation.

    According to sources, Samaras had a discussion with Investment manager Li Jiqin over development and investment issues, including the company's interest for the Heraklion International Airport in Kastelli.

    The meeting took place at Maximos Mansion.

    [08] Gov't VP meets with EU commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion

    Government Vice President and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos on Tuesday met with European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion Laszlo Andor.

    "There is nothing more dramatic than a young or mature person being a long-term unemployed," Venizelos said after his meeting with Andor and stressed that development will create new jobs while he also said that he discussed "the new additional efforts that can be done exploiting community funds and the new institutional systems introduced by the EU for the youth, to cope with unemployment."

    Andor underlined that there is development among the eurozone countries and unemployment is decreased, but that doesn't mean that the situation is satisfactory. He also thanked Venizelos for the "high priority" that the Greek EU presidency placed on issues connected to "social dimension."

    [09] Respect for the environment is a development challenge, Environment minister says

    Respecting the environment is not just a moral obligation but also a development challenge, Environment, Energy and Climate Change Minister Yiannis Maniatis said at a conference on the launching of "Sustainable Greece 2020" initiative.

    According to the data the minister cited, the 27,000 areas under the EU's "Natura 2000" programme have annual revenues of 50-80 billion euros and create 4.5-8 million jobs.

    Maniatis termed the environment as the most significant legacy of the country and pointed out the wager is to produce wealth that respects the environment, which will be distributed in a socially fair way.

    He welcomed the fact that the initiative for respect to the environment comes from the business world itself as a voluntary commitment.

    Development and Competitiveness Minister Costis Hatzidakis, who spoke at the same conference, highlighted the need for entrepreneurship to be extrovert, innovative, competitive and at the same time consider the social cohesion and the protection of the environment.

    Hatzidakis referred to a phrase of the former US President Ronald Reagan, which as he said depicted Greece's reality during the past few decades: "If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it."

    He pointed out, though, that because of the crisis an increasing number of people acknowledge that only healthy, extrovert, innovative and competitive entrepreneurship can create a viable growth, new wealth and jobs. And no social benefit can be more effective than a job, Hatzidakis said.

    He noted that the basic characteristics of sustainable growth for Greece today is emphasis on an extrovert, innovative and competitive entrepreneurship, the enhancement of social cohesion and the respect for the environment.

    The aim of the initiative for sustainable growth is the commitment of leading companies to the common vision on Sustainable Economy and Society in Greece. Its founding institutions are the Hellenic Federation of Entreprises (SEV), SEV's Council for Sustainable Development, the Hellenic Association of Pharmaceutical Companies (SFEE), the Association of Greek Tourism Entreprises (SETE), the Association of Greek Food Industries (SEVT), the Hellenic Exchanges, the Hellenic Bank Association and the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

    [10] EU member states need to cooperate on health policies, EU Health minister say

    EU member states need to cooperate at all levels regarding health policies in Europe, according to EU Health ministers participating in an informal meeting held under the Greek presidency at Zappeio.

    The common procurement of vaccines for all EU countries, cooperation in health monitoring of migrants and sharing of expertise for electronic health are the three areas with significant scope for cooperation, the ministers said.

    European Commissioner for Health Tonio Borg said that member states should notify until the end of June whether they wish to join the optional programme of central procurement of vaccines, which aims at saving resources and strengthening the protection of the citizens.

    "There are some countries that still have some reservations about the central procurement of vaccines and others that may need to vote on it in parliaments, but I believe that eventually most of them will agree," Borg underlined.

    Regarding the EU health policy for migrants, it became clear, as the Greek Health Minister Adonis Georgiadis also noted, that each country should approach it differently, as the funds required depend on many factors, such as the geographic location.

    "150 million euros have been spent in our country over the last few years on the healthcare of migrants," according to Georgiadis. The minister also referred to the decisions of the informal council, according to which every migrant has the right to have access to the health care system. It was also acknowledged there was a need to provide special care services to children and pregnant women and set specific guidelines for diseases.

    Referring to the sustainability of health systems, the European Commissioner gave the example of Greece which cut pharmaceutical expenditure and implemented a successful e-prescription model, saving money for the uninsured.

    Georgiadis added that the government's target is that all the uninsured, who exceed 2 million, gain access to health services and medicine they need.

    [11] EU Commissioner for Health: Reforms are necessary to avoid collapse of health system

    European Commissioner for Health Tonio Borg said in an interview to ANA-MPA WebTV that if reforms in the health sector had not been implemented in Greece, the healthcare system would have collapsed.

    Tonio Borg, who is visiting Athens to participate in a EU Health ministers informal meeting, noted that before the crisis "the need for reforms was visible, but after the crisis it became urgent."

    He also explained that the problem is not only Greek, but reforms should be implemented in other countries' health systems so as to adjust to the new situation and avoid problems in the future.

    "I can tell you the positive and the negative aspects of what has happened in Greece. There was an improvement in the reduction of pharmaceutical expenditure. Greece spent almost 2 pct of the GDP for medicine. This has changed," Borg said adding that the European Commission is not yet satisfied with the healthcare coverage of the people in Greece because the reforms, as he said, should also take into consideration the social parameters.

    "The uninsured apparently need additional protection measures," he noted adding that the patients' insurance coverage remains one of the targets.

    "If the crisis led to a better coverage for the citizens in the future, let's stick to the positive aspect of the crisis and not to the crisis itself. We can't talk about healthcare without a stable health system," Borg said and explained that "without reforms, most of the European health systems will collapse. For that reason, the reduction of expenses was necessary and not only because we were ordered by the troika."

    Referring to health policy on migrants, Borg said: "What we are trying to do is to set guidelines. To define when and which migrants should undergo medical examination based on the country of their origin. We do not see migrants as disease vectors, but we must ensure that some diseases of the past will not appear again".

    [12] Defence minister wraps up visit to Egypt

    Defence Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos has concluded a visit to Egypt, where he held talks with his Egyptian counterpart General Sedki Sobhy in Cairo, Greece's defence ministry announced on Tuesday.

    After completing the lightning visit, Avramopoulos said that his brief trip to Cairo had been "important and useful for our strategic interests in the region" and welcomed the holding of presidential elections in the country in May, saying they would contribute decisively to the country's political stabilisation with the free will of the Egyptian people for the benefit of peace, security and prosperity in the region.

    During the visit, Avramopoulos was also received by Egyptian President Adly Mansour and presidential candidate General Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, a former commander-in-chief of the Egyptian Armed Forces that has also served as defence minister and deputy prime minister.

    In talks with Avramopoulos, Egyptian officials affirmed their intention to proceed toward an Egyptian state that was open to the world and with respect for the rule of law. They also discussed issues of terrorism and illegal migration that created instability in the region.

    Avramopoulos again expressed Greece's support for Egypt and the will of its people and relayed the greetings of Greek President Karolos Papoulias and Prime Minister Antonis Samaras.

    The minister also attended a dinner given in his honour by the Greek community in Cairo.

    In statements after meeting Mansour, the Greek minister stressed that Greece, as a member of NATO and the European Union, exercised policies promoting peace and was a powerful factor for stability and security in the region of southeastern Europe and the eastern Mediterranean.

    The Greek minister was accompanied by chief of the Navy General Staff, Vice Admiral Evangelos Apostolakis.

    [13] A constitutional review needs national unity, political and institutional concession, PASOK says

    The statement by PASOK's press office was not about New Democracy's possible initiatives regarding the constitutional review, but about reports of an alleged prior arrangement with PASOK at a party leaders' level, PASOK said on Tuesday.

    The party's announcement followed a statement by ND spokeswoman Anna Asimakopoulou, regarding an announcement issued by PASOK early on Tuesday, which commented on reports according to which Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and Government Vice-President and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos had an prior agreement on an initiative to review the constitution and that Samaras would make the relative announcements on Friday.

    In her announcement, Asimakopoulou said "the proposals for the constitutional review and the reforms the country needs are an initiative by New Democracy and a follow-up of its leader Antonis Samaras' pre-election pledge." She added that "this initiative is New Democracy's inalienable democratic right, which is not subject to anyone's prior approval."

    PASOK in its first announcement on the issue noted that "the two parties, which presented ideas and proposals before the 2012 elections, have not raised or discussed issues regarding the review of the Constitution."

    It also stressed that a review initiative needs above all "national unity as well as political and institutional concession, which is reflected on the increased majority that the Article 110 of the Constitution provides for", while these conditions, according to PASOK, do not exist in the present context "due to the sterile, petty and miserly attitude of the opposition".

    [14] Council of State reiterates that Greek public bonds haircut was legal

    Council of State plenum issued six new decisions on Tuesday reiterating that the Greek public bonds "haircut" (PSI) carried out on March 2012 is constitutional, legal and in accordance with the European Convention on Human Rights.

    In its argument, the Council said that the haircut was done "for reasons of public interest." It also said that the law introducing the haircut (4050/2012) was based on public interest and resulted in the reduction of the public debt.

    The Council of State rejected petitions from 223 bond-holders, the Scientific Personnel Association at the Bank of Greece and the Panhellenic Federation of Public Tax Office Staff. In March 2014, the Council had rejected the petitions of approximately 7,000 bond-holders, who included individuals, public and private entities of the state, the Commercial and Industrial Chamber, and pharmaceuticals organisations, among others.

    [15] Overdue social insurance contributions total 350 million euros

    The value of overdue social insurance contributions that have to be collected by the end of 2014 totals 350 million euros, Labor and Social Insurance Minister Yiannis Vroutsis said in a report to Parliament.

    In the report, Vroutsis said that the Social Insurance Contribution Collection Center was now responsible for collecting this sum and to distribute them to social insurance organizations by the end of the year.

    [16] KKE criticises draft law on business licensing, warns of safety risks

    Pointing to the weekend's tragic accident at a play area in Athens' Elliniko municipality, the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) on Tuesday said that this had highlighted the responsibility of central and local government for the safe operation of businesses at a time when draft legislation being pushed through Parliament would allow an enterprise to be set up with a simple statement and without prior inspections, caving in to the demands of big business.

    "Through this policy, the lawlessness of capital is legalised, so that it will have quick and direct profits, setting the safety of staff and those that come into contact with the infrastructure of such businesses at risk, as well as the protection of the environment," KKE claimed.

    [17] Australian Ambassador Bloomfield addresses parliamentary committee

    Australian Ambassador to Athens Jenny Bloomfield addressed a responsible parliamentary committee on Tuesday and referred in detail to bilateral relations with Greece, as well as to the role of the Greek expatriate community in Australia, in the context of a briefing on the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (AUTH) training programmes designed for educators wishing to teach the Greek language in Australia.

    Outgoing ambassador Bloomfield, who is of Greek origin and was born in Thessaloniki, thanked the MPs for the excellent cooperation during her term and, referring to bilateral relations, said that they are the result of the close ties between the half-a-million Greek-Australians and the motherland, 100,000 of whom are first generation immigrants.

    She noted that business cooperation can improve further and underlined that Greece is a popular tourist destination for Australians.

    The ambassador praised the founding of the Hellenic-Australian Business Council, noting the bilateral benefits gained so far and underlining its role in a future closer cooperation. "In difficult times like these experienced by Greece, the existence of a coordinated and strong diaspora can contribute greatly in terms of extroversion and in supporting vulnerable groups," she underlined.

    Referring to the cultural exchanges between the two countries in the context of the multicultural Australian society, she expressed hope that they will intensify further, underlining the importance of a bilateral work and holiday programme for young people. She also made a special reference to the teaching of Greek as a second language in Australian schools.

    The large Greek-Australian community is an important asset that will have to be utilized for the benefit of both countries, the Australian ambassador concluded.

    [18] Admin. reform ministry extends deadline for public-sector staff evaluations

    The administrative reform ministry on Tuesday announced that it was extending the deadline for a public-sector staff evaluation process until July 18 for ministries and ministry-supervised bodies and until September 1 for local authorities, citing local government and European elections as the cause for the delay.

    According to a ministry circular, a decision on the quota of employees that can enter each score category will be issued by May 19. In that time, public-sector services must calculate the number of employees that evaluators can include in each of the three categories (25 pct can score between 9-10, 60 pct between 7-8 and 15 pct between 1-6).

    Reports evaluating civil servants must then be drawn up by July 18.

    These deadlines are later for local authorities, with the number of employees in each category to be issued by June 30 and the reports drawn up by September 1.

    The ministry said the deadline was extended due to possible interpretation problems that may arise when it is first implemented, combined with the imminent elections.

    [19] Public-sector reforms transitioning from quantitative to qualitative targets, deputy minister tells seminar

    Greece's public-sector reforms are making the transition from quantitative to qualitative targets, Deputy Administrative Reform Minister Evi Christofilopoulou said on Tuesday. She was speaking at a seminar organised by the French Embassy in Greece and the administrative reform ministry in order to exchange ideas and transfer knowhow on improving public-sector services to citizens.

    "The central choices of the strategy for qualitative reform are now national choices and we make a commitment, as the ministry's leadership, to implement them; not because they are prior actions under the memorandum but because the silent majority of Greek society demands them," she said.

    The ministry was in the process of drafting presidential decrees for new ministry organisational plans, which would lead to a 40 pct reduction in administrative structures, while a census and evaluation of staff in private-sector-law legal entities was continuing, Christofilopoulou added.

    "Wherever we find overlapping responsibilities or that the mission is concluded, we will restructure or abolish," she said, while referring to plans to 'rationalise' the public-sector payroll without necessarily reducing the annual payroll spend.

    In this context, she said there would be a new system to select managerial staff that would go beyond "static and formal" qualifications to include written exams and structured interviews.

    [20] SYRIZA leader presents Europarliamentary ballot

    Main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) Alexis Tsipras on Tuesday initiated his party's pre-election campaign at a special event presenting SYRIZA's Europarliamentary ballot.

    "Greeks rise up," Tsipras said and asked the Greek people to send a message to the "government of subservience", while he stressed that that the EU is builds walls that block millions of people not only from development's benefits but also from the essentials to living a humane life.

    "Our Europe is the Europe of the people and solidarity," Tsipras said and added that "we will change (German Chancellor Angela) Merkel and bankers' Europe with our vote and our struggle."

    Tsipras underlined that the country's mass media had carried out a "huge and unprecedented operation of lies and deception." The oligarchs and the bankers still control the people and the country's life, he said, while he called on every Greek to force the government to leave.

    Responding to the speech, government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou said, "Tsipras is trapped in his world, in his fixation and obsessions," and stressed that "we will not let his obsessions poison Greece."

    [21] Fifteen parties apply to participate in EuroParliament elections

    Fifteen Greek political parties on Tuesday submitted applications to Greece's supreme court to participate in the European Parliament elections on May 25. These included the far-right Golden Dawn (Chryssi Avgi), whose application was signed by currently jailed party leader Nikos Michaloliakos, the newly formed National Dawn led by Mihalis Giannogonas, the Communist Party of Greece, and the newly-formed 'Potami' party led by journalist Stavros Theodorakis.

    The parties who will participate in the elections will be announced by the Supreme Court on May 11.

    [22] 'Electronic war' case defendants released with conditions pending trial

    Two former Defence ministry armaments directors, Giorgos Kolliris and Evangelos Vassilakos, both defendants in the so-called "electronic war programme" purchase case were released with conditions pending their trial, after testifying before prosecutor for corruption Kostas Sariotis on Tuesday.

    Kolliris, who is banned from leaving the country and will have to post a 100,000-euro bail, is accused of breach of faith in connection with a 2001 purchase by the ministry of Defence concerning 18 scramblers and 11 listening centres that allowed the interception of hostile communications and the creation of countermeasures.

    Vassilakos, also accused of breach of faith, was released after posting a 50,000-euro bail with the condition that he will not leave the country.

    The "electronic war" case file refers to the roughly 72-million-euro contract, signed in 2001 with Sonak company when now-jailed Akis Tsohatzopoulos was in office as defence minister, that caused damages to the state amounting to 48,407,996 euros.

    According to evidence collected during the questioning process, after the contract was signed the ministry of Defence paid half of the amount but the contract was never honored.

    Sonak owner Thomas Liakounakos and company representative Ilias Arkoumaneas will also appear before the prosecutor within the next few days.

    [23] 'Stop unlawful and shameful expulsion of refugees and migrants' Amnesty International tells Greece

    The European Union must sanction Greece for its failure to eradicate the routine and widespread practice of pushing back refugees and migrants arriving at its borders in search of protection, safety, and a better future in Europe, Amnesty International said in a report that was published on Tuesday.

    Amnesty International's report "Greece: Frontier of hope and fear" contains new evidence of the treatment by the Greek authorities of people risking their lives to find refuge in Europe. This is in direct violation of Greece's international human rights obligations, Amnesty International said. The report calls on the EU to use its power to start legal proceedings against Greece for failing to uphold its obligations.

    Between September 2012 and April 2014, the report said, Amnesty International spoke to 148 migrants and refugees about their experiences of trying to enter Greece. Just under half of them said they had been pushed-back from Greece to Turkey, sometimes more than once.

    According to the report "current policies in Brussels, the capital of the EU, are heavily tilted towards the deterrence and prevention of irregular migration rather than providing protection to those who need it."

    The EU Commission, the report said, allocated 227,576,503 euros for Greece to keep refugees and migrants out from 2011 until the end of 2013; but only 19,950,000 euros to assist their reception during the same period.

    "As Europe builds higher walls, refugees and migrants are taking ever more hazardous routes. In the Aegean Sea alone, at least 188 people, including children and babies, drowned or went missing between August 2012 and March 2014," the report says.

    Following the findings of the first report, "Greece: Frontier Europe: human rights abuses on Greece's border with Turkey, July 2013" Amnesty International has collected almost 95,000 signatures from across Europe and Israel that urged the Greek authorities to immediately terminate the pushing back of refugees and immigrants.

    Financial News

    [24] Moody's upgrades outlook for Greek banking system to stable

    Moody' s Investors Service on Tuesday upgraded the outlook for the Greek banking system to stable from negative, reflecting expectations that the Greek economy would return to growth in 2014-2015 after six years of contraction.

    The credit rating agency, in a report, said that "the gradual economic recovery, coupled with Greek banks' recapitalisations and regained access to inter-bank and international capital markets, will further ease funding pressures and lead to a gradual recovery of pre-provision profitability in 2015. In addition, the outlook also takes into account the expected deterioration in asset quality and capital metrics in 2014, although at a much reduced pace than before".

    The rating agency considers that despite continued weak domestic demand in the wake of wage cuts and a still elevated unemployment rate the operating environment for Greek banks will gradually improve, signalling the re-emergence of more normalised financial metrics over the 12-18 month outlook horizon.

    Moody's forecasts gradual economic recovery - with real GDP growth of 0.3% in 2014 and 1.2% in 2015 - led by tourism and exports, as structural reforms are progressively transforming Greece into a more competitive export-oriented economy from a consumer-led growth model.

    Despite still weak labour markets and demand, the rating agency considers that the current GDP growth path will create more sustainable business opportunities for banks, while the economies of scale resulting from the significant sector consolidation in 2012-13 will better position banks to benefit from efficiencies.

    The rating agency also expects funding pressures on Greek banks to stabilise further, as dependence on central bank funding will continue to ease against the background economic recovery. Greek banks have been able to access both the interbank repo market, as well as the international capital markets, as evidenced by the recent senior debt issuance by two Greek banks.

    Moody's also notes that banks' recapitalisation in June 2013 and the resulting access to the interbank repo market has reduced funding requirements from the European Central Bank and Emergency Liquidity Assistance from the Bank of Greece to 19 pct of total assets at end-December 2013 from 34.6 pct in December 2012. However, customer deposits will remain fragile and will take time to replenish the sizeable loss of deposits in the system since 2010.

    Against this background, Moody's expects a gradual improvement in profitability in 2015 as banks' pre-provision income will progressively increase; however, banks will remain loss-making in 2014 because of the still elevated loan-loss provisions. In addition, while Moody's notes the sustained slowdown in the formation of new nonperforming loans (NPLs), the rating agency predicts that reported NPLs will peak at around 37 pct of gross loans at year-end 2014 or early 2015 from 31.7 pct as of December 2013, owing to the lagged effect of economic recovery.

    Moreover, loan-loss reserves are insufficient to cover expected losses, as NPLs have risen faster than provisions and banks' ability to foreclose on residential properties remains somewhat constrained.

    Despite banks' recapitalisation in June 2013 and the increase in their loss absorption buffers, under Moody's "central" stress test scenario, the rating agency estimates around 7.5 billion euros of further capital needs stemming from the banks' loan-book losses alone, provided there are no losses imposed on sovereign securities. This amount is broadly consistent with the 6.4 billion euros estimated capital needs for banks under the "baseline" scenario announced by Bank of Greece in March 2014.

    Although that magnitude of capital would be within the Hellenic Financial Stability Fund's current buffer (of around 11.4 billion euros as of December 2013) to provide further support, the new capital is likely to be sourced largely from private investors, as demonstrated recently by the successful rights issues from two Greek banks.

    [25] EIB signs memorandum to participate in Greek Investment Fund

    Greece on Tuesday signed a memorandum of cooperation with European Investment Bank (EIB) for the participation of EIB in a Greek Investment Fund with 50 million euros.

    Greek authorities have already signed an agreement with German bank KfW and were in negotiations with France's Investment Fund and private investors for their participation in the Fund.

    The aim of the Fund is to promote growth, innovation and employment through offering medium- and long-term credit and equity capital to small- and medium-sized enterprises and to small size infrastructure projects, necessary to boost competitiveness in the Greek economy.

    The agreement was signed by Development and Competitiveness Minister Costis Hatzidakis and EIB's chairman Werner Hoyer, at the presence of Greek Finance Minister Yiannis Stournaras.

    The Greek FinMin said that the capital injected in the Fund were not big but stressed that they could attract more private capital and reiterated the importance of restoring liquidity in the economy.

    "We are ready to offer additional support to Greek SMEs as soon as EIB positively assessed the Fund's business plan," Werner Hoyer said.

    Development Minister Costis Hatzidakis said that negotiations were underway with other candidates to participate in the Greek Investment Fund. "We march on a steep uphill and remain on alert but 2014 was crucial to turn the ship and to move into better conditions for small- and medium-sized enterprises," he stressed.

    "The agreement shows our strong will to support Greece. EIB is a natural partner in the country's effort to recover. Our partnership, based on our comparative advantages, will help to avoid an overlap of funds and to maximize benefits for Greek citizens," EIB chairman noted.

    EIB has approved loans worth 9.0 billion euros to Greece since the crisis began in 2008 and has a funding exposure of 17 billion in the country, or around 17 pct of the Greek GDP. EIB's investments in infrastructure totals around 14 billion euros.

    [26] Environment minister reveals plans for creation of new natural gas axis

    Plans for the creation of a new natural gas axis that will begin from Greece, cross the European continent vertically and reach the Baltic countries were revealed on Tuesday by Environment Minister Yiannis Maniatis, addressing the International Scientific Conference "From Crisis to Growth: In Search of New Growth Models for Greece and the European South", jointly organised by the Mediterranean Studies Foundation and the Friedrich Ebert Foundation.

    The pipeline is named ABC after "Aegean-Baltic Corridor" that constitutes, as the minister said, the effort of seven countries - Greece, Bulgaria, Romania, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary - to link the national natural gas transport systems "so that very soon and without a very great expenditure we can shape a new axis, from the south of Europe to the Baltic, that will carry natural gas starting from the Greek-Bulgarian IGB, that will be a reality in 2016".

    Describing the new pipeline's possible supply sources, Maniatis referred to the increase in the capacity of the liquified natural gas station of Revythousa, off the coast of Athens, to the two floating gasification units of liquified natural gas (LNG) in northern Greece ("I do not know whether both will be constructed, but one at least will", Maniatis said) to the infrastructures for the reversal of the flow of existing pipelines "so that Greece will not only receive but will also be able to send natural gas" and the EastMed pipeline, "that we aspire will carry natural gas from the Israeli-Cypriot deposits, and we hope from the Greek as well, through Crete and continental Greece to the rest of Europe".

    Referring to searches for hydrocarbons, the minister said that three weeks ago the first three large contracts that the Greek state will sign with preferred contractors for Patras Gulf, Katakolo and Ioannina were sent to the Auditing Council for a legal review."We are awaiting for the green light from the Auditing Council, and immediately afterwards the country will sign the first three contracts on the immediate development and exploitation of hydrocarbons", the minister concluded.

    [27] Deputy Dev't minister to meet on investments in US, TAP, and Chios airport on Wed.

    Deputy Development and Competitiveness Minister Notis Mitarakis on Wednesday will meet a delegation of US business people participating in the Global Entrepreneurship Program.

    The U.S. delegation consists of 13 investors and entrepreneurs from the sectors of technology, financial services, gastronomy, marketing, consulting and real estate and has scheduled meetings with ten Greek enterprises; their interest focuses on Greek start-up businesses, while their visit is a U.S. Embassy in Athens initiative.

    Mitarakis will also receive Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) director for Greece Rikard Skoufias and talks will focus on the possibility of increasing the participation of Greek businesses in TAP construction procedures.

    Later on Wednesday the deputy minister will chair a meeting regarding the airport of Chios, in which administrative executives from Finance and Environment ministries along with representatives from Civil Aviation Authority administration will participate.

    [28] Environment minister reveals plans for creation of new natural gas axis

    Plans for the creation of a new natural gas axis that will begin from Greece, cross the European continent vertically and reach the Baltic countries were revealed on Tuesday by Environment Minister Yiannis Maniatis, addressing the International Scientific Conference "From Crisis to Growth: In Search of New Growth Models for Greece and the European South", jointly organised by the Mediterranean Studies Foundation and the Friedrich Ebert Foundation.

    The pipeline is named ABC after "Aegean-Baltic Corridor" that constitutes, as the minister said, the effort of seven countries - Greece, Bulgaria, Romania, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary - to link the national natural gas transport systems "so that very soon and without a very great expenditure we can shape a new axis, from the south of Europe to the Baltic, that will carry natural gas starting from the Greek-Bulgarian IGB, that will be a reality in 2016".

    Describing the new pipeline's possible supply sources, Maniatis referred to the increase in the capacity of the liquified natural gas station of Revythousa, off the coast of Athens, to the two floating gasification units of liquified natural gas (LNG) in northern Greece ("I do not know whether both will be constructed, but one at least will", Maniatis said) to the infrastructures for the reversal of the flow of existing pipelines "so that Greece will not only receive but will also be able to send natural gas" and the EastMed pipeline, "that we aspire will carry natural gas from the Israeli-Cypriot deposits, and we hope from the Greek as well, through Crete and continental Greece to the rest of Europe".

    Referring to searches for hydrocarbons, the minister said that three weeks ago the first three large contracts that the Greek state will sign with preferred contractors for Patras Gulf, Katakolo and Ioannina were sent to the Auditing Council for a legal review."We are awaiting for the green light from the Auditing Council, and immediately afterwards the country will sign the first three contracts on the immediate development and exploitation of hydrocarbons", the minister concluded.

    [29] Mitarakis and Bulgarian deputy premier discuss Black Sea bank funding for Greek businesses

    Deputy Development and Competitiveness Minister Notis Mitarakis on Tuesday held talks on ways in which the Black Sea Trade and Development Bank (BSTDB) might finance Greek businesses, during a meeting with Bulgarian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Economic Growth Daniela Bobeva in Sofia. The Bulgarian minister holds the chair of the bank's board of directors for 2014.

    After the meeting, Mitarakis reported that the meeting was held ahead of a BSTDB board meeting in June and focused on ways in which the bank can provide more decisive assistance to Greek businesses.

    "As is known, our country has significantly supported the BSTDB and hopes to build a more active relationship between Greece and the bank. Finally, we discussed issues of bilateral economic cooperation, with special emphasis on investments in the energy sector," Mitarakis said.

    [30] Eurobank successfully completes share capital increase plan

    Eurobank successfully completed an international and public offering procedures of a share capital increase plan and said that trading of its new shares will begin in May 9, Hellenic Financial Stability Fund (HFSF) said on Tuesday.

    A group of institutional investors, including Fairfax, Capital Research and Management, Wilbur Ross, Fidelity, Mackenzie and Brookfield, agreed to revise upwards the offer price of the new share to 0.31 euros from 0.30, confirming the binding offer worth 1.332 billion euros, while the book building process was three times oversubscribed, the Fund said in a statement.

    Christos Megalou, Chief Executive Officer of Eurobank, commented: "The successful completion of Eurobank's capital increase constitutes a vote of confidence to the prospects of our bank and of the Greek economy. Eurobank becomes the first Greek bank to regain a majority private shareholder base, a milestone in the process of the recapitalisation of the Greek banking system. The role of the HFSF was instrumental in running an efficient process which contributed to the success of the capital increase. The Combined Offering was well received from a broad base of investors, including long only and sovereign wealth fund investors, as well as Greek retail and institutional investors. We are excited with the quality of the investors that took part in the Combined Offering, and we are pleased to welcome them as new shareholders. We remain committed to supporting the Greek economy, making the most of the opportunities created by its positive upturn, serving our depositors and clients, and creating value for our shareholders."

    Lazard Freres acted as financial advisor of Hellenic Financial Stability Fund, while valuation reports were drafted by Lazard Freres and Morgan Stanley.

    Anastasia Sakellariou, chief executive of Hellenic Financial Stability Fund, said: "The completion of a share capital increase plan by Eurobank is a significant landmark for the bank, HFSF and the Greek banking sector, while it signals the return of Eurobank to the private sector."

    Eurobank announced the results of the Combined Offering having placed 9,238,709,677 new ordinary shares with total proceeds of 2,864,000,000.10 euros. In particular:

    1. Both the Public Offering and the International Offering were oversubscribed. Over 250 institutional investors participated in the International Offering confirming the strong interest in Eurobank.

    2. Following consultation with the Joint Global Coordinators of the International Offering and the lead underwriter of the Public Offering, the Board of Directors of the Bank set the offer price at 0.31 euros per offered new ordinary registered share. As a result, the share capital of the Bank is being increased by 2,771,612,903.10 euros and an aggregate of 9,238,709,677 new ordinary registered shares, each having a nominal value of 0.30 euros, are being issued (the "New Shares"). The total above par value of 92,387,097.00 euros shall be credited to the Bank's own funds account "Difference from the issuance of shares above par".

    3. The New Shares will be allocated in accordance with the allocation rules set out in the Prospectus dated 17 April 2014 and the relevant announcements of the Bank, as follows:

    (a) 923,870,967 of the New Shares, representing 10% of all New Shares, are allocated to "private investors" and "institutional and other investors" (within the meaning of the decision 2/460/2008 of the Board of Directors of the Hellenic Capital Market Commission) who have validly participated in the Public Offering; and

    (b) 8,314,838,710 of the New Shares, representing 90% of all New Shares, are allocated to investors who have validly participated in the International Offering. Those investors include the group of institutional investors (cornerstone investors) (i.e. Fairfax Financial Holdings Limited, WLR Recovery Fund V, L.P. and/or other investment vehicles managed by WL

    Ross & Co. LLC, Capital Research and Management Company, acting in its capacity as a discretionary investment manager for and on behalf of certain funds that it manages, Mackenzie Financial Corporation, acting in its capacity as discretionary investment manager for and on behalf of certain funds that it manages, certain funds managed by Fidelity Management & Research Company and Brookfield International Bank Inc) with whom the Bank has entered into the Cornerstone Investor Agreement announced on 15 April 2014.

    Eurobank will inform the investors for the results of the Combined Offering with a new press release whereas detailed information for those results will be announced by the lead underwriter of the Public Offering, Eurobank Equities Investment Firm S.A., in accordance with the decision 2/460/2008 of the Board of Directors of the Hellenic Capital Market Commission and the circular 23/2004 of the Hellenic Capital Market Commission.

    The New Shares will be listed on the Main Market of the Athens Exchange and their trading is expected to commence on Friday, 9 May.

    [31] EU approves Eurobank's restructuring plan

    The European Commission on Tuesday approved the restructuring plan of Eurobank Group and said the plan was in line with European Union state aid rules.

    The EU's executive arm, in an announcement said that the plan will enable the bank to become viable in the long term without unduly distorting competition. Greece has committed to a comprehensive set of measures covering both the restructuring of Eurobank's activities and the credit policy of the group. On the basis of the plan, the Commission has approved under EU state aid rules the restructuring aid granted by Greece to Eurobank Ergasias S.A., including recapitalisations by the Hellenic Financial Stability Fund (HFSF) in 2012 and 2013, as well as the HFSF's backstopping of the ongoing recapitalisation.

    The Commission has also approved Eurobank's acquisition of Nea Proton Bank and New Hellenic Postbank, whose integration within Eurobank will reinforce the viability of the group without unduly distorting competition.

    Joaquin Almunia, vice-president of the Commission in charge of competition policy, commenting on the approval said that "the restructuring of Eurobank is an important step forward for the Greek banking sector. The restructuring plan approved today reinforces the viability of the bank and ensures that it will be strong enough to support recovery in Greece by providing credit to the real economy".

    Since 2008, Greece and the HFSF have granted repeated capital and liquidity support to Eurobank Ergasias S.A. The Commission opened an in-depth investigation in July 2012 to assess whether the measure was in line with EU rules on state aid for banks during the crisis.

    Eurobank's restructuring plan runs until 2018. It mainly aims at a deeper refocusing on core banking activities in Greece and a return of these operations to strong profitability:

    Eurobank has already started rationalising its Greek branch network and divested subsidiaries in Turkey and Poland. Since 2012, it converted and bought back subordinated debt at significant discount in order to generate capital. No dividend has been paid in cash since 2008 and the ownership of historical shareholders dropped below 2 pct following the HFSF recapitalisation. The bank will continue to restructure and deleverage its international operations, dispose of non-core activities in Greece and improve its operational efficiency and net interest margin, notably by further reducing its costs.

    Greece also committed that Eurobank will implement a corporate governance framework and a prudent credit policy based on sound commercial practices, notably regarding transactions with its shareholders and managers.

    These commitments will be monitored by a trustee.

    The Commission also notes positively that for Eurobank's current capital increase, which HFSF is backstopping, the subscription price for the new shares has been determined on the basis of two independent appraisals of the fair value of the bank. This will avoid an excessive dilution of the HFSF which owns more than 90 pct of Eurobank since its 2013 recapitalisation. Moreover, if the HFSF has to inject a sizeable amount of capital in the context of the ongoing recapitalisation, Greece has committed to further deleverage the international activities of the bank. This enabled the Commission to adopt a decision before the capital increase was closed.

    In its assessment, the Commission has taken into account the fact that the difficulties of Eurobank do not come mainly from excessive risk-taking but from the sovereign crisis and the related exceptionally protracted and deep recession which started in 2008. The Commission therefore agreed to a smaller downsizing than for other restructuring cases already approved by the Commission, especially in the domestic market where the Commission accepted that the bank does not deleverage its balance sheet over the restructuring period.

    However, the far-reaching restructuring and governance measures to be implemented, such as the downsizing of international operations and non-core activities in Greece, the contribution of shareholders and subordinated creditors or the restructuring of commercial operations in Greece, provide adequate safeguards to limit the distortions of competition created by the state aid and ensure that the bank and its owners sufficiently contribute to the cost of restructuring and recapitalising the bank. The Commission has therefore approved all capital and liquidity support measures.

    [32] Deputies call for publication of agricultural cooperatives' fiscal review data

    Twenty-five deputies are calling on Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and Rural Development Minister Athanasios Tsaftaris to publish the reports on finance reviews conducted on agricultural cooperatives PASEGES, GESASE and SYDASE, in a written question tabled in Parliament on Tuesday.

    PASEGES (Panhellenic Conferederation of Unions of Agricultural Cooperatives) is Greece's largest union, followed by GESASE, the General Confederation of Greek Agricultural Unions. SYDASE, the Confederation of Democratic Agricultural Unions of Greece, was dissolved in 2012.

    The first to sign the query was independent deputy George Kasapidis, while the question and the application for the tabling of documents are also jointly signed by New Democracy party deputies, including former Alternate Rural Development Minister Maximos Harakopoulos, and deputies of the Independent Greeks party.

    As is stressed, "the financial and management check of the agricultural cooperatives and collectives PASEGES, GESASE and SYDASE began at the order of Prime Minister Samaras immediately after the elections, following reports on the non-rationalised managing of state subsidies they received through the agriculture insurance agency ELGA from 1994 to 2011. This check was concluded a few months ago, also according to an official announcement by former Alternate Rural Development Minister Maximos Harakopoulos. However, the reports of the services that carried out the check have not been publicised, resulting in a host of questions remaining unanswered".

    According to data that Minister Tsaftaris provided to Parliament, over the 1994-2012 period, PASEGES received a total of 37,471,011.39 euros, GESASE 11,321,002.35 euros and SYDASE 6,807,218.12 euros.

    [33] Greek bank deposits up in March

    Deposits in Greek banks rose by around 500 million euros in March to a total of 161.052 billion euros, from 160.5 billion euros a month earlier, the Bank of Greece said on Tuesday.

    The central bank, in a monthly report, said that if deposits by the central government were included, bank deposits totaled 177.2 billion euros in March from 174.6 billion euros at the start of the year.

    [34] Bank credit to private sector remained negative in March

    Bank credit to the private sector remained negative in March, for an annual rate at -4.1 pct, or a negative credit flow of 718 million euros, the Bank of Greece said on Tuesday.

    The central bank, in a report, said that net funding of enterprises was a negative 405 million euros in March for annual decline rate of -5.3 pct, from -5.2 pct in February.

    The annual rate of funding of non-financial enterprises was -5.1 pct in March, unchanged from February. The annual rate of credit to insurance enterprises and other financial institutions was -8.5 pct in March from -7.1 pct in February.

    Credit to households (mortgage and consumer loans) fell by 3.4 pct, for a total household debt of 100.3 billion euros. The outstanding value of mortgage loans was 70.9 billion euros at the end of March, from 71.1 billion in February, while the outstanding value of consumer loans and credit cards fell to 27.9 billion euros, from 28.2 billion euros in January.

    [35] PPC electricity rates will not change in 2014, deputy energy minister Papageorgiou says

    The Public Power Corporation S.A. (PPC S.A.) electricity rates have not changed since 2013 and are not about to be changed in 2014 either, Deputy Environment, Energy & Climate Change Minister Makis Papageorgiou on Tuesday underlined in the context of an energy conference held in Athens.

    The deputy minister noted that the country's memorandum obligation to abolish subsidies on special electricity rate categories will be implemented gradually to avoid rate hikes, especially for lower rates. Using as an example the electricity rate for farmers, he said that the solution will be to install smart electricity meters.

    Referring to the timetable for electricity and natural gas market reforms, he noted that tenders will get underway in September for PPC S.A. lignite and hydroelectric energy packages. The process will be in effect until 2015 when the new energy market model will be implemented in compliance with EU regulations. In the meantime, the PPC S.A. privatisation will move ahead, the deputy minister said, underlining that major foreign companies have already expressed interest.

    He announced that a draft bill on the deregulation of the natural gas retail market will be tabled in June and referring to the renewable energy sources, he underlined that the cost-saving measures implemented by the government amounted to 555 million euros this year.

    [36] Intralot expands contract with Ohio Lottery

    Intralot Inc, a subsidiary of Intralot Group in the United States, on Tuesday announced the expansion of its contract with Ohio Lottery to supply new generation terminals MPNG. The new terminals will allow players to participate in interactive lottery games in the state of Ohio. The terminals are manufactured in Intralot's factory in Mason, Ohio.

    [37] Balkan chambers' president urges for cooperation to boost entrepreneurship

    The Association of Balkan Chambers (ABC) president Constantine Michalos on Tuesday pointed out a series of economic sectors that offer prospects for further inter-Balkan cooperation, aiming at exploiting the competitive advantages of the region.

    In order for the Balkan countries to gain a common European future they should invest in joining forces, Michalos said in an ACB conference in Athens, to be able to face common problems and jointly exploit and maximize common competitive advantages.

    The areas with greater scope for closer cooperation are energy, agricultural production, especially in the field of organic agriculture, tourism, infrastructure development and transport.

    Presidents and representatives of chambers of Albania, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Turkey, FYROM, Montenegro, Romania and Serbia participated in the conference, while the government was represented by the Tourism ministry secretary general Anastasios Liaskos.

    In his speech, Michalos referred to the Greek efforts to exit the crisis over the last years, stressing, however, that in addition to these efforts, a key step in the same direction would be troika's measures to further ease the Greek debt so that it becomes permanently viable. At the same time, Michalos underlined, there should be adequate funding of enterprises, which presupposes the completion of banking union as well as actions for the quantitative easing in the euro area.

    Especially for the Balkans, funds provided by the European Union under the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA) should be increased. Referring to the Balkan region, Michalos said he considered "the need to create a strong regional market in the countries of Southeast Europe very important, so they can better exploit the special characteristics they share: location and proximity, access to European markets, climate etc."

    He also noted that an important goal to which the chambers can contribute is that of strengthening employment, through the activation of the institution of apprenticeship. "Chambers can act as a liaison between the business community and the education system. They can propose specialties that meet current market needs, but also serve the broader objective of developing and strengthening the competitiveness of the Greek economy. Finally, chambers are and will continue to be the strong voice of small and medium entrepreneurship on a Balkan and European level," Michalos said.

    [38] Bank of Greece governor to attend London roadshow organised by Goldman Sachs

    Bank of Greece Governor George Provopoulos will be travelling to London to address an investor roadshow organised by Goldman Sachs on Wednesday, outlining the prospects of the Greek economy and banking sector. Provopoulos' speech is on "The Greek crisis: Then and now".

    The event is expected to be attended by representatives of major international investment funds and institutional investors, as well as foremost economic analysts.

    [39] Mytilineos Group enters Greek electricity retail market

    Protergia, a member of Mytilineos Group, on Tuesday unveiled plans to begin activities in the electricity retail market, offering contracts both to households and enterprises.

    The company' s rate for household consumption is currently 0.0945 euros per kWh, regardless of the total consumption, and will be adjusted on a monthly basis, according to cost developments. Public Power Corporation's (DEI) household rate is currently 0.07793 euros per kWh for consumption of 0-800 kWh, 0.0946 euros for consumption of 801-2,000 kWh and 0.10252 euros for consumption of more than 2,001 kWh.

    Protergia will also offer night electricity rates and discounts, or gradual return of guarantees to consistent customers. Bills will be issued on a monthly basis.

    The market share of independent electricity energy suppliers in the Greek retail market is currently 2.0 pct. Dinos Benroubi, managing director of Protergia, said he expected this share to rise to double digits in the next three eyars.

    Protergia is operating a network of electricity power stations using natural gas, with a total power of 1,200 MW.

    [40] Ryanair announces two new routes from Athens to Brussels and Rome

    Low-cost carrier Ryanair on Wednesday announced its winter schedule, which includes two new routes from Athens to Brussels and Rome, while Chief Commercial Officer David O'Brien said that daily flights to London and Thessaloniki will be increased to four and six respectively, responding to the growing demand of the passengers.

    O'Brien said that from September, destinations from Athens will be eight increasing the total number of flights from the Athens International Airport from 154 to 222 per week.

    "Ryanair came to stay in the Greek market," O'Brien said stressing "Ryanair, with its 175 additional aircrafts, cab now offer additional jobs, new destinations and low fares demanded by Greek consumers and travellers, while it expects a close cooperation with the Athens International Airport, which will unlock a huge potential for development."

    O'Brien also announced that Ryanair celebrates its winter schedule announcement by offering low-budget fares from May to June which will be available until Tuesday, May 6 at midnight and said that the company's website is already available in Greek to allow easier access by the Greek passengers to the airline services.

    Ryanair also presented data concerning April's three first weeks, when 125,000 passengers from Athens, 130,000 from Thessaloniki and 80,000 from Chania travelled with the airline.

    [41] Greek stocks end flat on Tuesday

    Greek stocks ended flat in the Athens Stock Exchange on Tuesday, as strong buying interest for the shares of Piraeus Port and OPAP (the state betting organisation) helped the market to partly reverse Monday's sharp decline. The composite index rose 0.10 pct to end at 1,195.20 points, off the day's highs of 1,209.72 points. Turnover remained a strong 104.39 million euros.

    The Large Cap index rose 0.25 pct and the Mid Cap index ended 0.69 pct lower. Piraeus Port (3.37 pct), OPAP (2.22 pct) and Terna Energy (1.46 pct) were top gainers among blue chip stocks, while Korinth Pipeworks (2.22 pct), Motor Oil (2.08 pct) and MIG (2.02 pct) suffered losses.

    The Media (2.89 pct), Travel (1.88 pct) and Chemicals (1.0 pct) were top gainers among the market's sectors, while Health (2.83 pct), Oil (1.24 pct) and Financial Services (0.91 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Banks: +0.21%

    Insurance: +0.72%

    Financial Services: -0.91%

    Industrial Products: +0.63%

    Commercial: +0.56%

    Real Estate: -0.58%

    Personal & Household: -0.02%

    Food & Beverages: -0.46%

    Raw Materials: +0.21%

    Construction: +0.19%

    Oil: -1.24%

    Chemicals: +1.00%

    Media: +2.89%

    Travel & Leisure: +1.88%

    Technology: -0.86%

    Telecoms: Unchanged

    Utilities: +0.87%

    Health: -2.83%

    The stocks with the highest turnover were Piraeus Bank, OTE, Alpha Bank and OPAP.

    Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:

    Alpha Bank: 0.67

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 10.50

    Coca Cola HBC: 18.10

    Hellenic Petroleum: 6.10

    National Bank of Greece: 2.87

    Eurobank Properties : 8.38

    OPAP: 11.50

    OTE: 10.60

    Piraeus Bank: 1.66

    Titan: 21.78

    [42] Greek bond market closing report

    The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds shrank to 4.77 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Tuesday, from 4.92 pct the previous day, with the Greek bond yielding 6.27 pct and the German Bund yielding 1.50 pct. Turnover was a strong 68 million euros, of which 35 million were buy orders and the remaining 33 million euros were sell orders.

    In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month rate rose to 0.621 pct from 0.62 pct, the nine-month rate was 0.529 pct, the six-month rate was 0.444 pct, the three-month rate was 0.347 pct from 0.345 pct and the one-month rate was 0.269 pct.

    [43] ADEX closing report

    The June contract on the FTSE/ASE Large Cap index was trading at a discount of 0.23 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Tuesday, with turnover at 25.825 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totalled 10,388 contracts worth 20.018 million euros, with 48,697 open positions in the market.

    Volume in futures contracts on equities totalled 12,0278 contracts worth 5.807 million euros, with investment interest focusing on Eurobank's contracts (3,202), followed by Alpha Bank (1,237), Piraeus (997), National Bank (1,089), MIG(413), OTE (1,661), PPC (1,548), OPAP (649), Hellenic Exchanges (177), Mytilineos (204), Hellenic Petroleum (171), Sidenor (106), GEK (96) and Folli Follie (81).

    [44] Foreign Exchange rates - Wednesday

    Reference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:

    U.S. dollar 1.403

    Pound sterling 0.834

    Danish kroner 7.576

    Swedish kroner 9.191

    Japanese yen 144.16

    Swiss franc 1.238

    Norwegian kroner 8.405

    Canadian dollar 1.539

    Australian dollar 1.514

    General News

    [45] Stavros Niarchos Foundation approves 67 grants amounting to 16 million euros

    The board of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation on Tuesday approved 67 grants for programmes and actions by Greek and foreign non-profit organisations, amounting to 16 million euros. The actions being sponsored are related to culture, education, health and welfare.

    "We know that in order for the current situation in the country to change, however much capital one gives is not enough. This would require solutions, cooperation by all agencies, innovative ideas. Our goal is to contribute to the measure of our ability, as best we can, so that our children will have a better future," said the foundation's operating officer John Zervakis.

    The foundation has made 25 donations of about 5.5 million euros to support programmes for training young artists and to promote Greek culture abroad, 36 donations totalling 5.8 million euros for educational programmes, scholarships and vocational training, eight new donations of 2.5 million euros to boost research in health and to upgrade hospital facilities and 30 new programmes with 4.8 million euros to create professional opportunities for young people and to support the most vulnerable social groups on a global level.

    [46] Families in the Crisis conference held in Athens

    Greece has the second lowest position in the EU after Portugal in certain measures making up the composite Gender Equality Index, Secretary General for Gender Equality Vasso Kollia on Tuesday underlined at a conference hosted by the Confederation of Family Organisations in the European Union (COFACE) and the Family and Child Care Center (KMOP) in Athens.

    According to the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE), an average of 77 pct of women and 24 pct of men are systematically involved in housework and home care in the EU, compared with Greece's 78 pct and 9 pct respectively.

    The secretary general noted that women become trapped in the role of the "super woman" and in times of economic crisis they seek additional sources of income to support their family more dynamically than men while, at the same time, they are still exclusively responsible for the care of their families. Men, on the other hand, tend not to alter their work habits and attitudes. Moreover, while women are more educated than men (60 pct of university graduates are women) only a few occupy top places in academic institutions or in the sectors of business and research.

    General Secretary of Welfare and former general secretary for gender equality Efi Bekou referred to new policies that are being implemented seeking family-work reconciliation.

    Addressing the conference, Deputy Minister of Health and former general secretary for gender equality Zeta Makri underlined the impact of the economic crisis on institutions like family and work, noting that the crisis has led to more violence against women in the form of harassment at the workplace, domestic violence or violent behaviors in general.

    The conference on "Families in the Crisis - Finding work-life balance in a difficult economic context" is one of the highlight events of COFACE's Year for Reconciling Work and Family Life in Europe thematic work programme over the course of 2014 and is held in close cooperation with the Greek EU Presidency.

    Austerity measures and cuts to social services, women's participation in the labour market, and how work and family life reconciliation can work under economic stress were among the topics addressed, as well as, childcare, family solidarity in times of crisis and the outlook for young people and their future families.

    [47] Benaki Museum exhibition on Sufism to open this week

    The Benaki Museum will on Tuesday hold the official opening for the exhibition "Chronis Pechlivanidis: A journey into the world of Sufism" that is due to open its doors to the public on Friday and will run until July 27.

    The exhibition explores the world of Islamic mysticism, or Sufism, seeking to present the world of Islamic spirituality, its history and basic concepts. Sufi teachings and practices are estimated by many Muslims and Sufi orders continue to exist. They are distinguished according to their origins, their historical path and geographical provenance.

    The exhibition has three sections: The first part is a presentation of works of art from the Islamic collections of the Benaki Museum that relate to Sufism. The second is dedicated to monuments located in different regions of Greece and constitute evidence of Sufi brotherhoods in the area. The third part is a visual journey, created by filmmaker Chronis Pechlivanides, through video presentations of ritual ceremonies from different locations.

    [48] Inquiry launched into Elliniko municipality's liability for tragic funfair accident

    The Attica Decentralised Authority General Secretariat has launched an inquiry into whether the Elliniko-Argyroupolis municipality may be liable for a tragic accident that occurred at a funfair operating within the bounds of the municipality over the weekend, resulting in the death of a 13-year-old boy and serious injury of his nine-year-old sister.

    Acting on instructions from Interior Minister Yiannis Mihelakis to conduct an inquiry into the incident, Attica Authority General Secretary Manolis Aggelakas sent an urgent letter to the Elliniko mayor to inquire why the funfair had not been given an operating licence - as stated in an announcement by the municipality disclaiming responsibility - and asked for a complete dossier outlining the safety measures required to operate an amusement park and games for children, as well as the lease agreement for the municipality site used by the funfair.

    [49] Four arrested over Elliniko fatal funfair accident face criminal charges

    Authorities changed the charges against those arrested over the fatal accident at the Elliniko funfair on Sunday, which resulted to the death of a 13-year-old boy and the injury of his 9-year-old sister, to felonies.

    Judicial authorities converted the charges pressed on Monday against the four accused to felonies from misdemeanors in view of new evidence. The initial charges for negligent manslaughter and injuries were converted to homicide with possible intent and causing severe bodily harm.

    The four accused -- the manager of the operating company, the Italian national who had rented the equipment and two employees from Bangladesh -- who were expected to testify over misdemeanors charges requested and were given by the investigating magistrate of the case a new deadline to appear before the authorities on Friday.

    [50] Elliniko-Argiroupolis municipality authority expresses grief over funfair fatal accident

    The Elliniko-Argiroupolis municipal authority expresses its grief over Sunday's fatal accident at a funfair operating in the city, which resulted in the death of a 13-year-old boy and the severe injury of his 9-year-old sister.

    "We express our grief on the tragic incident, not by speaking to several media, but by standing by the side of the family and support it with specific actions, to the extent that we are able to do so," the Elliniko-Argiroupolis municipal authority said in a statement.

    It was also noted that an investigation regarding the circumstances of the accident as well as those responsible for the setting up and operation of the funfair, as well as the certified safety of its games is already underway.

    "For this reason, we have not made any statements on who is to be considered accountable. Not because we are hiding, but because we respect the procedure underway," the announcement pointed out adding that the targeted attack against it by some journalists, politicians and local organizations serves different interests.

    [51] Police see 'Revolutionary Struggle' group and Nikos Maziotis behind March bank robbery, police say

    The terrorist group "Revolutionary Struggle" and fugitive terrorist Nikos Maziotis are most likely behind the March 10 armed robbery in a Bank of Piraeus branch in Klitoria, near Kalavrita in southern Greece, during which a policeman was shot and injured, the counter-terrorist squad announced on Tuesday.

    The Greek Police (ELAS) headquarters gave to publicity 28 images captured on closed-circuit television (CCTV) camera that show the robbers in action. The culprits, who are wearing wigs, do not have their faces covered.

    According to the police, DNA was traced on a bullet shell which was fired by one of the culprits injuring a police officer during the Klitoria bank robbery. It matches biological material traced on a number of objects seized during the arrest of Revolutionary Struggle members in a house in Kalyvia, greater Athens region, in 2010 that was used by fugitive terrorists Nikos Maziotis and Panagiota Roupa.

    Also, there is a match with biological material found in apartments in the Athens districts of Kypseli and Nea Filadelphia used as hideouts by the same terrorist group and in another hideout in Kypseli where almost all the group's arsenal was found as well as the terrorist group's printed material. The same DNA was traced in a private car used by Maziotis.

    According to ELAS, the evidence led to the conclusion that the biological material belongs to Maziotis but this cannot be formally confirmed because Maziotis had refused to give his DNA when he was arrested in March 2010 and therefore a comparison is impossible.

    The bank robbery in Klitoria was committed by two culprits who made off with 4,000 euros from the bank cashiers because the safe would not open. Two police officers from the nearby local police station arrived at the scene before the culprits were able to flee and in the ensuing shootout one of the officers was shot in the thigh. The culprits took his gun and fled with a stolen private car which they abandoned after setting it alight.

    The investigation into the case continues and anyone with relevant information can contact the Special Crimes Squad by dialing 1014 or 10414, police said.

    [52] Bomb squad neutralises parcel bomb mailed to Itea police station; no injuries

    Bomb disposal experts on Tuesday successfully neutralised a parcel bomb that arrived by post at a police station in the town of Itea, on the coast of Greece's Fokida prefecture, earlier the same morning. According to counter-terrorism squad officers, the bomb contained 600 grammes of the explosive TNT and metallic objects, such as nails, nuts and bolts, that would have claimed lives had it detonated as planned.

    The device was concealed in a book whose pages had been removed and also included a detonator, batteries and was booby-trapped to trigger an explosion if anyone opened the book. The name of the sender on the envelope was that of an Athens Archiepiscopate NGO.

    The remains of the device are being transferred to police forensic laboratories for examination and for a comparison with earlier letter bombs, including that sent to the former civil protection minister Mihalis Chrysohoidis that caused the death of his aide, police officer Georgios Vasilakis.

    The case is being investigated by the counter-terrorism service.

    [53] Car plunges into Kyparissia harbour, woman found dead

    A 28-year-old woman was found dead in a car that fell in the harbour of Kyparissia, southern Peloponnese.

    The woman was found in the passenger's seat while the car's 28-year-old owner of the car is being sought.

    The driver's mother, who was looking for him, had contacted the Kyparissia police station in the afternoon, that in turn notified the Kyparissia Harbour Authority, calling on it to examine the possibility of the car having fallen into the harbour.

    Harbour officials found the woman's boots on the pier, identified by a relative, and traces of the car's tyres. Divers found the car and the woman's body; the window next to the driver's seat was broken.

    The search for the man continued until nightfall, but the driver has not been found as of this writing.

    [54] No trains, urban railway on May 1; buses and trolleys on stoppages

    Railway, Athens Metro and bus and trolley services will be disrupted on Thursday, as workers will join the general strike and hold work stoppages for Workers' 1st of May, a public holiday.

    Hellenic Railways (OSE), will cancel scheduled runs on Wednesday night (April 30) and stop running all day Thursday. The urban railway (proastiakos) will also be on strike, affecting inter-city runs and anyone going to the airport on the Athens Metro, which will only go as far as the Doukissis Plakentias station in its northeastern branch.

    City buses and trolleys will hold work stoppages from the start of Thursday runs to 9:00 a.m., and then from 9:00 p.m. to the end of the day's schedule.

    A 24-hour strike has been called on May 1 by the two largest unions in Greece, GSEE (private sector) and ADEDY (public sector).

    [55] Mediterranean SOS launches annual cleanup campaign for 2014

    The villainous plastic bag and its many dangers for marine life was the focus of a press conference held on Tuesday by the non-governmental Greek environmental group Mediterranean SOS Network to launch its annual cleanup campaign for Greek seas in 2014. The yearly "Clean the Mediterranean" campaign is now in its 19th year.

    Based on figures from a study conducted by Patras University presented at the conference, plastic bags are the most frequent form of waste found on Greek shores. In fact, disposable plastic bags, plastic water bottles and aluminium cans make up roughly half the waste found on the seabed, while further studies on floating refuse have shown that 83 pct was plastic matter of various kinds.

    "Disposable plastic bags are a major problem for the marine environment. Greece is one of the few countries of the European Union that has not taken any legislative measures to stop this method for transporting foods," said MEDSOS Network president Evangelos Koukiasas.

    Maria Luisa Silva Mejias, coordinator of the Mediterranean Action Plan of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP/MAP), stressed that the use of plastic bags was a major problem and caused the deaths of at least one million birds and 100,000 marine mammals each year.

    The 2014 campaign aims to highlight the risks of using plastic bags and will include organised cleaning of beaches, sea bottoms and other natural areas by volunteers. These will start on May 1 and continue until June 30, with action harmonised on a European level in recognition of the seriousness of the problem.

    The press conference was also addressed by the environment ministry special secretary for waters, Maria Hatzigianni, who said that Greece hoped to receive 400 blue flags for its beaches this year.

    The programme is being held under the auspices of UNEP/MAP and is being implemented with the scientific support of the Marine Geology and Natural Oceanography Laboratory of the Patras University geology department.

    [56] Authorities checking a second possible case of MERS coronavirus

    Greek health authorities are checking a second possible case of MERS coronavirus while, according to information by the Centre for the Control and Prevention of Diseases (KEELPNO), the test results are expected in the afternoon.Authorities are checking a Greek national who came from the Persian Gulf and who was initially treated in Hippocratio hospital and was then taken to a negative pressure unit at Sotiria hospital.

    [57] Pediatrician faces child pornography charges

    A 47 year-old pediatrician of foreign nationality was arrested on Tuesday in Ioannina charged with child pornography. According to the Electronic Crimes Squad, the doctor, who has his private office in the city center, was distributing child pornography material. The suspect was sent before Ioannina prosecutor.

    [58] Rock band "HIM" to give concert in Athens

    The popular rock band "HIM" will give a concert in Greece on Friday, August 1. The concert will take place at Stage Volume 1 in Athens.

    Athens will be one of the stops of the Finnish group's world tour on the occasion of their recent album "Tears on Tape".

    The concert tickets pre-sale has started on Tuesday. They are available at the Ticket House, Reload Stores and on the websites www.ticketpro.gr

    [59] Free Wi-Fi access in over 20 spots in Thessaloniki

    Citizens and visitors of the city of Thessaloniki will have free Wi-Fi access in over 20 spots of the city as part of the municipality's strategy for the development of the broadband infrastructures for wireless networking (Wi-Fi hotspots).

    The municipality building, the central Aristotelous square, the White Tower and the entrance to TIF (Thessanoliki International Fair) are among the spots included in the programme. The free access connections are being gradually completed and the works are expected to be concluded within the next two months.

    Weather forecast

    [60] Clouds, rain on Wednesday

    Clouds, rain and westerly winds are forecast for Wednesday. Wind velocity will reach 6 on the Beaufort scale. Rain in the northern parts of the country with temperatures ranging from 11C-19C. Overcast and rain in the central and the southern parts with temperatures ranging from 10C-24C. Partly cloudy over the islands, 12C-23C. Scattered clouds in Athens, 11C-22C. Rain in Thessaloniki, 11C-20C.

    [61] The Tuesday edition of Athens' dailies

    AVGHI: Lower pensions, higher taxes.

    DIMOKRATIA: Huge hypocrisy. Home foreclosures at bargain price.

    EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: Prisoners of the neonazis.

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: Increase in taxes, reduction in pensions.

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: 5,332 hirings in three ministries.

    ESTIA: (SYRIZA leader and candidate for the European Commission presidency Alexis) Tsipras' absence from the debate.

    ETHNOS: The law for trade unions changes.

    IMERISSIA: Greece's debt relief will be discussed officially at the next Eurogroup.

    KATHIMERINI: With NSRF against unemployment.

    LOGOS: Greek debt relief to be discussed at the next Eurogroup.

    NAFTEMPORIKI: Businesses count five years with losses.

    RIZOSPASTIS: Governments change, the antipopular policy does not change.

    TA NEA: The university degree war.

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